Neither a sport nor a club, dance team sits in limbo


Contributed - Mariah Zermeno

The California Lutheran University dance team is considered a recreational sports club and will not be returning to in person practices anytime in the near future. (Photo from fall 2019)

Lauren Heller, Reporter

Since Ventura County entered the red tier, some California Lutheran University sports have resumed in-person practices and workouts, while others eagerly await similar guidance.

The Cal Lutheran dance team cannot share the same hopes.

Since the dance team is officially categorized as a Sports & Recreation club, they will not get the same opportunities as the NCAA sanctioned teams at Cal Lutheran.

“I am worried that we won’t get the same treatment or opportunities as athletic teams on campus because we are still a club and our rules are different [than athletic teams],” Sierra Arsitio, senior captain of the dance team, said in a phone interview.

The university emailed updated guidelines to club leadership stating that clubs and organizations could begin meeting on campus. These guidelines, however, didn’t include Sports & Recreation clubs.

“So that’s kind of unfortunate, because in that aspect, we are considered a sport but because of that we can’t hold an in-person meeting on campus,” Arsitio said.

Being stuck in the middle of being a sport and a club “really sucks,” Jade Castro, junior co-captain, said in a phone interview.

Junior dance team member Mariah Zermeno said in a FaceTime interview that the pandemic has left many of the dancers scattered far from campus.

Student leaders of the dance team have opted to use Zoom to create effective and efficient practices, where the team gets the chance to bond with one another and keep dancing.

“Every Monday, […] we play games or [on Monday] we carved pumpkins over Zoom, and then we’ll share our finished product in our group chat,” Castro said. “On Thursdays… we make dances or little combos, and then we’ll teach them, so every Thursday we learn a new routine.”

Despite the distance, Zermeno said, the team captains “have done a really good job” of uniting the team during these uncertain times and the pandemic has even allowed them to try new things.

“Because we’re online, and we don’t have anywhere to perform or get ready for halftimes or competitions, that’s allowed us to do a lot of different dancing styles and I think that’s been super great and fun for our captains,” Zermeno said.

The team, however, will likely have nowhere to show off their hard work or perform new routines because of Cal Lutheran’s Clubs & Organizations’ guidelines.

“What I’ve gotten from Cambria [Teter Kolter, coordinator for Student Involvement], is that we’re still following what Ventura County is saying, so recreational or sports clubs are not permitted to practice,” Arsitio said.

While dance has a longer season than cheer in addition to competing in tournaments, dance is not recognized as a Cal Lutheran sport, Zermeno said.

“I just think it’s unfortunate that we are [like] cheer [but] cheer is under the whole NCAA thing now,” Arsito said. “We’re very similar in a lot of aspects but because we are dance, we don’t get a lot of the same benefits that we would if we were a part of cheer or if we were considered a spirit program.”